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Berkeley Lab Joins New DOE Initiative to Improve Clean Energy Interconnection

image credit: Source: US Department of Energy
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Staff Lawrence Berkeley National Lab

The Electricity Markets and Policy Group (EMP.LBL.gov) is part of the US Department of Energy's network of national labs.  EMP conducts technical, economic, and policy analysis of energy topics...

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  • Jun 1, 2022
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There are now over 1,300 gigawatts of solar, wind, and battery capacity seeking grid interconnection, but those proposed projects face long wait times and – in many cases – very high costs to upgrade and connect to the grid system.

Researchers at Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory (Berkeley Lab) are pleased to partner with teams from Pacific Northwest National Laboratory (PNNL), the National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL), and the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) to launch a new initiative aimed at helping clean energy resources connect to the grid, enhancing overall grid reliability, and improving market competition and transmission access.

The Interconnection Innovation e-Xchange (i2X) will bring together partners to develop solutions for faster, simpler, and fairer interconnection of clean energy resources through better data, roadmap development, analysis, and technical assistance. The i2X team is holding a virtual kickoff event featuring Secretary of Energy Jennifer Granholm on Tuesday, June 7.

Solar, wind, and storage resources will need to dramatically expand to meet the Biden Administration’s goal of 100% clean electricity by 2035. However, current rules, costs, and procedures for connecting to the grid cannot handle the rapid increase in clean energy projects, resulting in lengthy interconnection wait times, high project withdrawal rates, and uncertainty for project developers. And with the clean energy investments in the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law, even more clean energy sources will join the queue for grid integration.

The i2X program aims to solve these challenges by addressing the core issues surrounding grid interconnection, such as a lack of data, shortage of human resources, and more complicated grid impact assessments. The i2X program will provide technical assistance to partners to develop solutions to specific regional, state, and local interconnection issues, helping connect more clean energy to the grid and lowering costs for consumer and families. i2X partners will also address the inequities caused by burdensome interconnection processes in alignment with the Administration’s Justice40 initiative.

Collaborating with participating i2X organizations, experts from Berkeley Lab, PNNL, NREL, and DOE’s Solar Energy and Wind Energy Technologies Offices will develop a 5-year roadmap that sets goals and identifies research gaps and benchmarks for success.

Learn more about i2X, sign up to be an i2X partner, and register for the June 7 kickoff webinar with Secretary Granholm.

 

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Matt Chester's picture
Matt Chester on Jun 1, 2022

The i2X program will provide technical assistance to partners to develop solutions to specific regional, state, and local interconnection issues, helping connect more clean energy to the grid and lowering costs for consumer and families. 

Seeing these technical issues solved is a huge part of the battle, but I hope it also goes after some of the soft side issues-- permitting slowdowns, lack of sufficient awareness about the issues, etc. Will that be a part of this initiative as well? 

Christopher Neely's picture
Christopher Neely on Jul 31, 2022

Glad to see a partnership like this one taking on a little-discussed issued in the renewable energy transition. While the NERC backs investment in firm natural gas resources to offer a dirty safety net for the power industry to fall back on, it's imperative we figure out how to address our renewable system's shortfalls and ensure it is operating at its full potential. Battery storage remains a bottleneck, but we also have a bounty of renewable energy just waiting to be used. 

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